Interview: Alex and Claire, O-Week Directors
If you were around during O-Week, your time almost certainly touched by one of UMSU’s student O-Week Directors. We caught up with two of them, Alex McMillan and Claire Fitzpatrick, to hear about how the new role of O-Week Director worked out.
Parkville Station: Why did you want to be an O-Week Director?
Claire Fitzpatrick: To make it more fun and inclusive for everyone! University is a pretty intimidating place, and O-Week is often a make-or-break time for students getting involved with their uni.
Alex McMillan: The opportunity to work with volunteers – I really like volunteering, it’s how I’ve structured the last five years of my life. Also the fact that it was a pilot program – when there’s something starting up you go yeah, I can make an impact there!
Parkville Station: Do you think it’s good that it’s a student-run position now?
AM: I think it’s an intuitive idea to have a student-run component to O-Week – engagement is faster if it’s student to student. Even if staff are young, there’s a big gap in understanding of what student life if like if you’re not actually a student.
CF: Yes… but also there needs to be a lot more funding, a lot more training and a lot more support for the role. It’s a massive job, and one that has been run collaboratively between professional full-time staff for a while. Students can run it, but they can’t do it alone.
PS: Do you think you’ve left a mark?
CF: I like to think so. Events like speed-friending and trivia were hugely popular, and I think the Host Program is better for being run by students, with more focus on getting students interacting with each other and the campus around them.
AM: I like to think so too! The host program ran largely similar to last year, but we made the training less formal, more interactive process, to engage hosts – both incoming and returning – and make sure they were in a position to help new students as much as possible. And as Claire said, speed-friending and trivia were a really great addition.
PS: There were a lot of hosts running around. How did you get so many volunteers to help out?